Regulatory changes in pterin and carotenoid genes underlie balanced color polymorphisms in the wall lizard

Reptiles show an amazing color diversity based on variation in melanins, carotenoids, and pterins. This study reveals genes controlling differences between three color morphs (white, orange, and yellow) in the common wall lizard. Orange pigmentation, due to high levels of orange/red pterins in skin, is caused by genetic changes in the sepiapterin reductase gene. Yellow skin, showing high levels of yellow carotenoids, is controlled by the beta-carotene oxygenase 2 locus. Thus, the color polymorphism in the common wall lizard is associated with changes in two small regions of the genome containing genes with crucial roles in pterin and carotenoid metabolism. These genes are likely to have pleiotropic effects on behavior and other traits associated with the different color morphs. Leer más.